As discussed in Chapters 1 and 3, the U.S. supply of Mo-99 is produced primarily by two companies, MDS Nordion and Mallinckrodt, at their facilities in Canada and the Netherlands, respectively (Table 3.1). Two other companies provide backup supplies of Mo-99 to North America: Institut National des Radioéléments (IRE) in Belgium and Nuclear Technology Products (NTP) in South Africa. All four of these companies produce Mo-99 using HEU targets.1 Conversion prospects for these four producers are described briefly in the following sections.

MDS Nordion (Canada)

As was noted in Chapter 3, MDS Nordion obtains impure Mo-99 under a revenue-sharing agreement with Atomic Energy of Canada, Ltd. (AECL) a Canadian Crown Corporation. AECL produces Mo-99 at its Chalk River, Ontario, site by irradiating HEU targets in the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor (Table 3.2) and processing those targets in an onsite hot cell facility. Mo-99 production was planned to be shifted to a new facility at the Chalk River site, but this plan was never realized for the reasons described below.

In August 1996, AECL agreed to construct two new reactors and a processing facility for MDS Nordion at the Chalk River site. These facilities, referred to as the Dedicated Isotope Facilities (DIF), include two reactors (referred to as the Maple reactors; Sidebar 10.1) and a New Processing Facility (NPF) with five hot cells to process irradiated targets and to manage the resulting solid, liquid, and gaseous wastes from the Mo-99 extraction process.2

Construction of the DIF, including the Maple-1 reactor, was completed by AECL in 2000. However, Maple-1 hot commissioning was halted by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission because of a technical problem with the reactor (see Sidebar 10.1). The delay in commissioning the reactor resulted in large cost overruns3 and culminated in mediation proceedings initiated by MDS Nordion. A settlement was announced in early 2006: According to a representative of MDS Nordion, the settlement involved the


The targets used by NTP are 45 percent HEU, not the 93 percent HEU used by the other producers.


The DIF was designed to irradiate and process HEU targets of a different design than the HEU targets that are currently being irradiated in NRU (see Table 2.2).


A representative of MDS Nordion reported to the committee that the original budget for the project was $145 million, but the company spent over $350 million on the project. The committee has not independently confirmed these figures, nor does it know what AECL spent on the project.

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